I spent this last week in Portland, Oregon, the city of roses. I was there for work covering The Opening, a summer showcase for blue-chip high school football players held at NIKE World Headquarters.
NIKE WHQ was amazing. The campus was everything I thought it would be. Our workroom was inside the Tiger Woods Center. And the fields were right outside. The hospitality and organization of the event was top-notch.
My media credential got us into the Nike employee store. Everything was wholesale and essentially 50 to 60 percent less than you would find in stores. I did a quick once-over of the apparel and such, added a few things to my bag (an Oregon running tank, a Federer cap, tennis shorts, a shirt for my brother, a pair of Zoom Fit trainers, slip-in’s, and Nike’s new international release sportswear kicks for Wimbledon). One of the best parts is they shipped it home for me from the store for only $30. It was a good thing I was with a group and didn’t want to hold anyone up, or I could have spent another hour in there.
But as beautiful and sophisticated as Nike headquarters were and as exciting and fun as getting new gear was, the best part of the week was the work. Hands down. I tell myself all the time how lucky I am to have a job that doesn’t feel like a job, and this week was just another perfect reminder.
I get to watch elite athletes live out their dreams, talk to them about it, dig for their sources of motivation, and write about their stories for an extremely plugged-in audience. Sports, sweat, dreams, travel, writing, story telling, and people… I couldn’t ask for more in the daily grind. When I get in my element, I develop a tunnel vision and will stop at nothing. It’s similar to endorphins after a workout. That tired feeling at the end of the day when you’re exhausted and know you’re waking up in six hours to do it all over again…well, I live for it.
“The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he’s always doing both.” – James Michener
For dinner, we went out each night. One night I had mussels, bone marrow, oysters and sausage! Pacific Northwest seafood at its finest. A different night I had a salad with blackberries, feta and shrimp. Again, delicious! In Portland’s airport, I ordered a salad with fresh mahi mahi. For lunch out one day, I ate Lebanese lamb, chicken and hummus at my second favorite restaurant of the week called Al Amir in downtown Portland. It was a family-run business and the former home of Portland’s Archbishop.
My favorite spot of the week though was called Eat: An Oyster bar, and it was so, so good. I looked it up online, it was nearby, and it had great reviews, so I visited it on of the first nights I was there alone. It didn’t disappoint. I had blackened catfish and three baked oysters that had spinach and parmesan cheese.
I flew to Portland a day early to see the city. Downtown was very unique (rather crunchy and earthy but fun to explore) and I spent my time exploring restaurants, the infamous Powell’s bookstore, and the Portland Japenese Garden and International Rose Garden, the latter of which is the oldest public garden in the United States. It was absolutely beautiful and a great way to see the nitty-gritty of much of what Portland has to offer.
Before Portland, I traveled to Chicago a day early to explore the Windy City in the summer. I’ll always favor the South, but it’s hard to beat this place in the summer. It has so much to offer. I scalped a ticket to the Cubs game on a whim, and ended up having awesome seats inside Wrigley on the 4th of July. Bucket list item, check.
I think traveling by yourself can be so invigorating. You not only get to go by your own schedule and move at your own pace, but you really get in tune with your strengths and weaknesses. I practiced not letting travel inconveniences alter my temper, not trying to “do it all” in one day (going with the flow) appreciating new perspectives, and last but not least, not stressing when pizza was the only thing on the menu.
Gratitude, kindness, compassion, humility, mindfulness, patience… these are the areas that I hone in on especially during travel.
I’m flying back to Indy now and have two days to regroup before hopping on the plane again. This time I’m headed to the East Coast for a couple weeks at home with my family, which for me means two weeks of vacation at the beach. Did I mention how much I love July?